Romans Chapter 12
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
These are some of the wisest words that Paul shares in Romans. And that is saying a lot.
“In view of God’s mercy.”
After the abundance of mercy that God has shown us, we should desire to please him and properly worship Him. So how do we do that? By offering our bodies as sacrifices to God by being HOLY and PLEASING to Him.
How do we know what holy and pleasing looks like to God? By renewing our minds in God’s word. Paul lays it all out right there for us. Isn’t this easy?
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world.”
This warns us that the world’s system – the popular culture and manner of thinking that is in rebellion against God – will try to conform us to its ungodly pattern, and that process must be resisted. And yet, many of us find ourselves being conformed to the world all the time. It sneaks up on you sometimes. Is our mouth just as foul as our coworkers? Do we covet the latest ‘thing?’ Has your position on the sin of homosexuality moved? Is viewing pornography ‘no big deal?’ Do you seek revenge against someone if they have wronged you? (That one is addressed later in this same chapter.)
How do we know if these things are wrong or not? By being transformed by the renewing of our minds. This is the OPPOSITE of being conformed to the world. Our minds start out being ruled by feelings, rooted in the flesh. At that point we look just like the world. But we need to have a source of truth – God’s world – that tells us what is right or wrong, despite what our feelings tell us. Feelings lie. The world lies. But God’s word never will.
We can only be transformed in our minds by becoming more and more familiar with what God’s Word says. Do you really stand out from the world? As a Christian, you should. The transformation you experience, from your old way of thinking and acting, should be as complete as Bumblebee or Optimus Prime from the Transformers movies when they transform from vehicle form to robot form.
Finally, Paul is not calling us to be completely separate from the world, but instead to not be like the world. We need to stand out in the world in such a way that we attract attention, and hopefully then draw others to God. If we completely separate ourselves from the world, changing the lives of unbelievers would be impossible.